Islamabad: Pakistan on Wednesday allowed the 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees to stay in the country for six more months by extending a tripartite pact with Afghanistan and the UNHCR that was set to expire this month.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf ordered the extension of the agreement, due to expire on December 30, as some 2.6 million Afghan refugees are still living in Pakistan, an official statement said.
Millions of Afghan refugees have been living in Pakistan since the late 1970s, when they fled their country to escape the fighting that broke out after the Soviet intervention.
The decision to extend the agreement was "made at a high level meeting held in the Prime Minister`s Secretariat (following) a presentation made on the management and repatriation strategy and policy for Afghan refugees living in Pakistan", the statement issued by the premier`s office said.
The meeting was informed that "only 0.2 million Afghan refugees could be repatriated up to the end of 2012 and there were still 1.6 million registered and one million unregistered Afghans residing in Pakistan".
Ashraf decided to set up a committee led by Minister for States and Frontier Regions Engineer Shaukatullah to monitor the repatriation of Afghan refugees.
The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Amad Khan and senior officials.